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The War Tapes (2006)

The War Tapes


Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 64
Fresh: 63
Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: Candid, eye-opening footage gives viewers a close-up -- and educational -- look at the experiences of American soldiers in Iraq, a viewpoint not normally seen.

Average Rating: 8.2/10
Reviews Counted: 27
Fresh: 26
Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: Candid, eye-opening footage gives viewers a close-up -- and educational -- look at the experiences of American soldiers in Iraq, a viewpoint not normally seen.


Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 1,711



Movie Info

Uses footage shot by three members of the National Guard deployed in Iraq. Sergeant Steve Pink is a wisecracking carpenter who aspires to be a writer. Sergeant Zack Bazzi is a Lebanese-American college student who loves to travel and is fluent in Arabic. Specialist Mike Moriarty is a father who seeks honor and redemption. Part journal, part jokebook, part witness, the film offers a view of war rarely seen from the inside out. We learn what the soldiers are thinking every step of the way, from … More

Documentary , Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Apr 24, 2007
SenArt Films - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The War Tapes

All Critics (67) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (63) | Rotten (1) | DVD (3)

This is an important film, but be prepared for shocks.

Full Review… | October 20, 2006
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Arguably the most vital and eye-opening documentary yet made regarding the United States' current military entanglement.

Full Review… | October 12, 2006
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

The film succeeds because of its refreshingly low-key emotional approach and its refusal to impose character arcs or political agendas on its subjects' footage.

Full Review… | October 12, 2006
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

The film is one of the most urgent and immediate nonfiction works we may ever see.

Full Review… | September 22, 2006
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic

No matter what you think of the U.S. presence in Iraq, the film will disturb or startle or dismay you.

Full Review… | September 15, 2006
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

A riveting firsthand look at the conflict on the battlefield, in the barracks, and on the home front, unfiltered by any partisan prejudice.

September 14, 2006
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

The direct-cinema authenticity that a soldier's eye gives to this largely street-fought war...lends The War Tapes its primary strength.

Full Review… | September 7, 2010
Cinema Writer

Intentionally or not, the movie locates a strain of ignorance to go along with the bravery

Full Review… | August 30, 2009

They expected tension; what they didn't expect was to serve out their year-long deployment as, essentially, the world's most targeted grocery store security.

Full Review… | July 2, 2009
I.E. Weekly

The director has managed to shape real people's lives into a drama, without imposing ideological filters, and without sacrificing what makes them real.

Full Review… | February 1, 2008

Gripping, boring, disturbing, amusing, enlightening and frustrating.

Full Review… | February 22, 2007
Film Journal International

A scary diary of their increasingly dehumanized daily lives (mostly spent protecting supply convoys on the dangerous highways) and the movie evokes the futile larger war around them in a series of haunting images.

Full Review… | October 19, 2006
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

What's here speaks for itself, and what it says is often surprising and deeply unsettling, regardless of one's political leanings.

Full Review… | October 15, 2006
Boxoffice Magazine

Informative as most of the partisan-produced, anti-war documentaries that we've seen in the last several years have been, none match this one for its wide-ranging scope and lived-it-at-ground-zero truth.

Full Review… | October 13, 2006
Los Angeles Daily News would make a great double bill with the recent My Country, My Country, which looks at things from the other side.

October 12, 2006
Los Angeles CityBeat

Universally Worthwhile -- not just as a documentary on this war. But as a documentary on this war, I think it's quite interestingly balanced.

Full Review… | October 12, 2006
Hollywood Report Card

A painfully intimate snapshot of who they are, the damage they inflict on an unseen enemy and what they endure while doing so, in all its absurd, dehumanizing and ennobling contradictions.

Full Review… | October 5, 2006
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

As raw and disturbing as it is wry and satirical, the resulting portrait is a powerfully unique film that goes beyond commenting on Operation Iraqi Freedom to become a provocative meditation on war itself.

Full Review… | September 30, 2006
Austin Chronicle

The edited footage has an intensity and immediacy you won't find on cable news networks.

Full Review… | September 29, 2006

The apolitical film serves us well for its candor.

Full Review… | September 21, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

In its portrait of the conflicted men who served their country, it honors the complexity and challenges of the battle that continues overseas.

Full Review… | September 14, 2006
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Audience Reviews for The War Tapes


Beat novelist and World War II veteran Jack Kerouac ceaselessly typed his second book onto tele-type paper taped together in one continuous scroll, such that the final product proved to be one expansive manic sentence. Thanks to the graces of his gifted editor, that sentence became On the Road, the now-classic tome on a search for identity in post-war America. Director Deborah Scranton had no less of a challenge in editing someone else's vision into the stark war narrative The War Tapes, in which she effectively communicates the incommunicable: War is a Hell that continues once the fighting has stopped.

Culmed from over 700 hours of footage shot by three members of a National Guard deployment in Iraq, The War Tapes smartly forsakes a documentary format's supposed objectivity for a frank immersion into what may be one of America's darkest hours. Given a director's individual political, philosophical, and religious convictions, objectivity in documentaries proves an impossibility anyway, especially considering how awash our culture is in the subjective American media. The soldiers take notice of this and the corporate profiteers, testament to Scranton's choosing her narrators well, an astute mix of humor, pathos, courage, and, yes, hope.

When Audie Murphy so wisely quipped "War is hell," there came the aspersion that heaven might also exist within the same continuum. Juxtaposing footage from the frontlines of war-torn Iraq with that of families on the homefront, The War Tapes only shows us that the same maudlin spirit seems to permeate the collective mindset-especially after the soldiers return as changed men-a telling commentary on how weary and identity-challenged our embattled society may have become.

Bottom Line: A stark and frank home movie from Hell-on-Earth.

Jeff B.
Jeff Boam

Super Reviewer

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